I thought I’d start the month of March off in style – a slice of cheesecake that my colleague brought to work at the beginning of the month to set us up for the week. It was very lemony and very tasty.
I had a smallish slice as I had already arranged to see chum Christine, who was coming round for tea/coffee and promised cake. So I had to buy cakes and have my second of the day…
I went for the apparently healthier option of a fruit slice.
Christine selected the Eierlikör:
And I was nice and got a slice of cheesecake for Klaus too.
So the first four photos this month have been of cakes. This is not dramatically unusual, of course, but after this cake onslaught I worked a bit harder at reducing the cake/carb consumption as I realised that for almost a year the first number in my weight was a 7 (I fluctuated between 70 and 73 kg depending on how much breakfast I had on the mini honeymoons!). Before June last year my weight began with a 6 (I went between 67.5 to 69.5 kg). When you look at it like that, I had actually put on 2-3 kg. So I decided, in preparation for a summer car tour of Scotland (which will involve lots of food!) plus several other holidays, I need to work harder on the normal days to eat the right stuff.
So… the next photo is…
A dessert platter of tiramisu, panna cotta and sorbet. This platter was shared between three of us (the guy taking the order was a bit random and interpreted “1 panna cotta and 1 tiramisu for 3 of us to share” to “6 different items which I can charge them for.”
Fortunately the fourth guest helped out a bit with the sorbet.
It was really tasty but way more than we needed!
This was a meeting with my former colleagues – we tend to meet up every 3-4 months and it was lovely to see everyone again. Here we are after the meal looking a bit stuffed.
Although we liked the food at Osteria Campunni in Kempen, when the bill came I noticed it had a 750 ml bottle of water on it (I actually had a small glass of tap water) and also a fish main course that none of us had had (we all ate the same pasta dish). He had overcharged us nearly 40 €. Fortunately we spotted this before we had completed payment but that and the waiter’s rather weird conversation about something being wrong with the door frame, we probably won’t go back.
Just to continue the theme of this blog, we went out to Viersen for an evening meal with Lara one evening and the excellent café there, Mokka, offered a very nice-sounding dessert that we shared with 3 spoons:
I really rate Mokka, which also has a café in Mönchengladbach (although I have never been there). Our evening meal before this cracking dessert was a falafel salad bowl and that was really tasty too!
And my resolution to be more careful with my food was really assisted by my colleagues Janita and Lucia, with whom I share an office. I had a bit of a bad week and so one day Janita bought me in a Quarkbällchen as she knows I like them:
And the next day Lucia brought in a really tasty apple pastry thingie:
Of course it’s rude to refuse so I enjoyed them.
It might also be worth reporting that this month I managed to do much more running – getting back into my 4k or 5k running 3 times per week. On the non-running days I usually managed a walk of 4k or more. So I am trying to return to the regular exercise that I was doing a year ago which means I can enjoy the cakes when they appear on my desk!
And now, a brief diversion from cakes to the dog. Here is Poppy demonstrating that we had quite changeable weather in March.
She is not a fan of the rain and won’t actually go for a walk with you if it’s raining. However, if you set out on a long walk in the sunshine and then halfway round you get rained on, then tough.
She was very shivery after this so we wrapped her up a bit.
This was much appreciated and she likes to hang out on the sofa more often now, perhaps with the hope we might wrap her up again.
Here she is, discussing Lara’s schoolwork on the iPad with her.
We also noticed a new neighbour this month:
We also have another person in our flat listening to what we say – Alexa! She is bilingual in theory but she does have some problems if the English Language speaker (me) says something in German.
I couldn’t work out why she wouldn’t turn on “Klaus Nachtischlampe” (Klaus’s bedside lamp) when I asked her, so I looked to see what she thought I had said:
As we don’t have a Claire living with us, and no-one has a noctis lamp, it makes sense.
She also struggles with Knollensellerie (which is German for Celeriac). I tried twice with no success as you can see on my shopping list:
Seems OK with Kohlrabi though.
These are of course first world problems and it’s our own fault for having Alexa listen to us, but we find her quite useful most of the time.
Mini Honeymoon #16
I had connected recently with a chum from my youth group days, Neil, who also lives in Germany, and he commented that I seem to be very impressively having an exceptionally long honeymoon. This is true, and we continued the celebration with Honeymoon #16 in Gundelsheim.
Gundelsheim is on the river Neckar, vaguely in the direction of Heilbronn, so quite a long journey (four hours each way). Still, we had found a nice castle hotel which we thought we should visit, and Klaus was born by the Neckar so he has some good feelings of being at home when we visit.
We set off at 8am and headed on the main motorway route towards Frankfurt. As we were approaching Frankfurt Klaus suggested we stop for a piece of cake in Frankfurt, and in fact that we go back to Zeit for Brot (which does these wonderful Schnecke, last enjoyed when we visited the Ambiente Messe in Frankfurt in January). So I said yes.
It always surprises me how easy it is to drive directly to the centre of Frankfurt – the roads don’t seem mega busy. We park at the underground car park at the Hauptbahnhof that, although 3,50€ an hour, is well positioned and always has oodles of space.
It is just a 300 metre walk from there to Zeit for Brot.
I chose the Maple & Pecan Schnecke.
Klaus went for Banana & Chocolate.
He tends to struggle to digest such things and his stomach definitely noticed having eaten it for at least three hours.
We headed on towards our destination by car and were discussing shoes a bit, as Klaus is looking to replace his walking shoes/trainers and had a couple of ideas. As he hadn’t had a chance to try on sneakers from Reebok he didn’t know how their sizing went so we decided to stop in Mosbach on the way to Gundelsheim and wander around a few shoe shops there (they had some, Gundelsheim didn’t). We were too early to check in anyway.
So we stopped off in Mosbach which was a lovely town. The sun was out and warming and there were people sitting outside eating ice creams, buskers, lots of bustle and it felt at last as if the Coronavirus pandemic was past. We looked in a couple of shoe shops but they didn’t have any men’s Reeboks to try. Klaus saw another pair of shoes which he liked the look of but they didn’t fit well. We had a cup of tea/coffee in a café to make up for the disappointment, but as it was only an hour after the Schnecke we actually said no to the cake on offer. Fancy that!
We headed back to the car and drove the remaining twenty minutes or so to Gundelsbach. The castle that we would be staying in was fairly easy to spot!
We checked in and were very interested to see that the signage to the different rooms showed that ours was a “suite” (not a “room” as the others were). And it was very nice, with high ceilings with interesting mouldings, loads of space, a huge bathroom and a wonderful view from the window.
They also gave us a little pack of pralines from the Konditor just 100 metres away. So we tried them out.
As they were indeed very nice we decided we should head to that very Konditor for some lunch cake (to follow on from our Breakfast Schnecke 2 hours before). So we did.
The weather was good enough to sit outside, and we enjoyed a slice of cake each.
As usual my tea order of hot water with milk was ordered. In Niederrhein this often causes great consternation on the part of the waiter/waitress, they often say I have to pay or it’s not allowed or whatever. What was noticeable on this trip in Baden Württemburg was that the four times I ordered tea on that day no-one batted an eyelid, just brought it to me without any faffing and even including the milk (which is usually forgotten). Better customer service in Baden Württemburg? Or more familiarity with Brits’ tea preferences?
After this we thought we ought to go for a walk up the hill we had seen out of our window in the castle, which was to a local viewpoint. So we did. It was quite hilly but we had a great view down to the town – we had one of the rooms in the top floor that you can see in the castle photo below.
What goes up must come down so we walked down again and took a path that goes round the side of the castle. We couldn’t go all the way round as some of it was closed but we could see some older structures which had been kept when newer bits of the castle were built.
It was a good walk and the weather was so great I had to take off my jumper and we were both just wearing t-shirts for the walk.
We were back in time to get ready for the evening meal in the restaurant in the castle.
Here we are ready for our dinner.
And once again we had a really good meal with some tasty food and good service.
For the dessert we both went for the Panna Cotta.
We were tired after our walking, especially as it had been quite hilly and off-road in places, so we had an earlyish night.
I was looking forward to the breakfast the next morning and I wasn’t disappointed. They had a really good selection of food and had done really interesting things with the egg options – the scrambled egg was formed into little cupcake shapes. They also had a circle of ham with a fried egg on it. And… for the first time ever in Germany… a cheese toastie!!!!
We had a leisurely and comprehensive breakfast and I felt pretty stuffed by the end of it. We had seen the breakfast price on some literature (20€ per head, although it was included in our room rate) but I think it was worth it as there was so much to choose from.
After we checked out we headed towards Mannheim as we were going to visit Klaus’s father again on our way home. We decided to stop for a walk first along the Rhein as we needed to try to exercise just a few of the breakfast calories away.
Here am I looking a bit windswept. It was interesting as when the sun was out it was warm enough to take off our jumpers but as we started walking back to the car it began to rain.
We did 10km walking in total and then drove to see Klaus’s father before heading back to Kempen.
Klaus went to England for four days for business, flying into Birmingham airport and spending two nights in Coventry before being taken to Stansted and staying overnight there, before being returned to Birmingham for the flight home. Of course, flying home from Stansted would have been much easier but he had no idea of the schedule of visits when he booked the flight. He visited several of the UK customers and also did training for the UK staff. He included the phrase “the full monty” in his training and suggested that they had not heard a German saying that before – indeed they hadn’t!
The following weekend we stayed at home and rearranged the lounge (I had got bored of the existing arrangement) which involved moving the grand piano – always a challenge. Fortunately Gudula and Frank were able to help us, and Lara was there too, so with the five of us we managed to move the piano on various offcuts of carpet so it didn’t damage the floor.
We had to buy a couple of new lights for the new arrangement (we have mood lighting behind the sofa now – we previously just had it behind the TV) and it is all very cosy but also somehow more open. We like it.
As a reward for all the hard work of moving sofas, grand pianos, bookcases etc we awarded ourselves the best cakes in Kreis Kleve – once again travelling to Elten near Emmerich to enjoy the cakes baked previously for Büllhorsthof. It’s an hour and a quarter each way in the car but is definitely worth it for a special occasion!
As we couldn’t decide what to have we chose 3 cakes and had each cut into two so we could have two halves each. This was a good solution!
Afterwards we went for a tour around the windmill next to the café. There are a few chaps who look after it and open it up once a month to visitors. The sails weren’t going round so we could go right up to the top (on some very steep ladder stairs!) and see the workings which were all very interesting for technical Klaus.
From what the chap explained, it’s all the same theory as in your car gear box and brakes, just made of wood and much larger.
The last day of May was at work a bit of a sad day as my colleague Claudia, who originally interviewed me for the job, was moving on to a new place after sixteen years. She had arranged some filled rolls for us all to share at lunchtime.
I had decided to make a couple of Banoffee pies to share as a dessert. People seemed to really enjoy their slices but we ended up with quite a lot left for the weekend – Klaus and I would have to share half of this big dish of pie!
It’s sad to see Claudia go as we got on really well and also worked well together. Also from next month there is a bit of a change in working times and I will start at 08:00 instead of 07:30. This means interestingly that the car journey will become less appealing (I drive about once per week to work) because I will be in rush hour and it will take 5-10 minutes longer than the bike journey. But I am a wimp and if it is really raining then I will take the car.
31 March was also Lara’s last day of school lessons. She still has exams for her Abitur (the final qualification where everything is bundled together, I suppose a bit like the International Baccalaureate) after Easter but she has no more teaching. The end of an era. She has already found a place in Victoria, Canada where she will work as an au pair from September for about a year, so she will be leaving Germany in a few months. Who knows where she will end up!
So that’s my report for March. We’re heading off to England for Easter (Klaus’s second visit there in about 3 weeks!) and then it’s the start of a lot more holidays and public holidays so the next few months feel pretty relaxed!
I wish all my readers a happy Easter and I hope you get some good Easter eggs or even Easter Cake!